Egypts Blocks Travel for Activists

There are many ways which regimes prevent civil rights groups speaking out and the Egyptian government is well versed in most of the methods.   They have recently imposed a series of travel bans on various human rights activists in order to curtail their activities.

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Last week, Aida Seif al-Dawla who is one of the founder members of the al-Nadeem Centre, was stopped from leaving the country.   This organisation focuses on rehabilitating some of the victims of torture, which you would expect to be a fairly uncontroversial activity.  However the Egyptian government are instigating travel bans on a variety of  individuals who are involved in human rights groups.

Most of these groups have been under increasing pressure from the latest Egyptian president al-Sisis who came to power in the 2013 coup.  Many had hoped that these organisations would be under less pressure than the previous Islamist regime but this appears to be not the case.  Egypt in increasingly worried about it’s international reputation and is increasingly seeking to prevent activists speaking at events and conferences.  The country is heavily reliant on tourism and believes that these groups are damaging the travel sector across the world.

The travel restrictions placed on Ms Seif-al Dawla follows a similar incident after a lawyer from a legal aid charity for women was also stopped at the airport.  There are numerous, other reports of various activists being blocked from leaving the country.

Currently the legal authorities have already issued travel restrictions/bans to over 16 rights activists in connection with their investigations which are known as “Case Number 173,” this targets civil society organisations on a variety of spurious charges relating to securing unauthorised funding from abroad.

In September, a judge froze the assets of several human rights activists and four organisations in connection with the same case. Nearly 40 organisations are alleged to have received money illegally from foreign donors to carry out activities – the state maintains that these are a threat to national security.

John Williams

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